FALMOUTH—On two occasions last spring, the Cape Elizabeth girls’ lacrosse team enjoyed a second half lead at Falmouth only to see the Yachtsmen rally and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Wednesday evening, history repeated.
Falmouth twice trailed by as many as three in the first half, but a momentum-turning goal from senior Laura Fay with a fraction of a second remaining before halftime sparked a 7-1 run and the Yachtsmen went on to an 11-9 victory, their fifth in six games this spring, dropping the Capers to 3-2.
Falmouth got four goals and three assists from sophomore sensation Alex Bernier, two goals and two assists from Fay, brilliance in the draw circle from sophomore Molly Ryan and 11 clutch saves from junior Moie Aaskov, who got some big-time help from a goalie’s best friend, the post, and took another step toward accomplishing its goal of becoming one of the finest teams in the state.
“Fortunately, we’re staying calm,” said Yachtsmen coach Robin Haley. “The feeling was if we can keep it close, we can make a difference in the second half. It was a very physical game. I’m really proud of the girls because they stayed with it. Things didn’t necessarily go their way today, but they kept their heads in it and that made a difference.”
Last April 29, host Falmouth blew a big early lead, then came from behind to beat Cape Elizabeth in overtime, 11-8, behind four goals from Fay. Last June 12, in the Western B semifinals, the Yachtsmen did it again, this time rallying from a late 10-8 deficit to win, 11-10 (Fay scored the winner), to advance to the regional final for the first time in program history (where they would lose to Waynflete, 11-6.
In 2011, Falmouth had no trouble in a 16-7 home win over Greely, then lost at home to Waynflete, 18-10. After winning at Massabesic (17-3) and York (17-7), the Yachtsmen earned a landmark 13-10 home victory over North Yarmouth Academy last Thursday. Falmouth was supposed to play at high-powered Yarmouth Saturday, but lightning in the area postponed that contest.
Cape Elizabeth also entered the new season full of hope, but the Capers’ expectations were tempered when they lost standout senior Karyn Barrett to a knee injury in the preseason. The Capers beat visiting Fryeburg (11-1) and host Marshwood (5-4, in overtime) to start the year, then suffered a 16-6 home setback to Yarmouth before bouncing back Friday with a 15-4 triumph at Wells.
Wednesday, Cape Elizabeth set the tone early, but Falmouth would dominate the second half.
Just 1 minute, 49 seconds into the 25-minute first half, the Capers got the jump when senior Paris Bethel scored unassisted. A minute later, the Yachtsmen looked to tie, but Bernier’s shot hit the post.
It wouldn’t be the last time that rare occurrence happened.
Cape Elizabeth made it 2-0 when sophomore Talley Perkins scored unassisted at 21:03.
The hosts finally got on the board with 16:37 to go before the half when Bernier took a pass from senior Jess DiPhillippo and beat Capers junior goalie Elin Sonesson.
Perkins then improbably hit the post twice in a 47-second span, but with 15:30 remaining, Bethel scored unassisted. Two minutes later, junior Janessa White set up sophomore Lauren Steidl for a goal and a 4-1 lead.
While only five goals were scored in the first 19-plus minutes of the half, seven more would follow before the break.
Falmouth got a transition goal, sophomore Geneva Waite from Bernier, with 5:50 left and a free position tally from Fay at 3:37 to pull within 4-3, but senior Anna Darling answered unassisted for the visitors and it was 5-3 with 3:09 to go before the half.
Bernier set up Ryan for a goal 16 seconds later, but Steidl (unassisted, at 2:30) and Perkins (free position, at 16.6 seconds) made it a 7-4 Cape Elizabeth lead.
Had the Capers gone to the break with that advantage, things might have turned out differently, but the Yachtsmen won the ensuing draw and Bernier passed to Fay, who, as time was about to expire, beat Sonesson with 0.2 seconds showing and Falmouth was only down 7-5 at halftime.
“Last game, I had a tough time scoring,” Fay said “I’ve been working on it. I saw the time and freaked out a little bit and winged it and it went in.”
“That goal was huge,” Haley said. “Gradually, the momentum changed and we capitalized on that.”
Indeed, the Yachtsmen would control play early in the second half, scoring four goals in less than six minutes to go ahead for good.
With 22:02 left in regulation, Bernier (from Fay) scored to cut the deficit to 7-6. With 17:39 remaining, Falmouth finally drew even as Bernier scored on a free position. Forty-eight seconds later, DiPhillippo converted a free position and Falmouth was on top, 8-7.
With 16:21 to go, Fay found Bernier for a transition goal and the lead was 9-7, but a minute later, Steidl was awarded a free position and beat Aaskov to make it a one-goal game.
DiPhillippo stretched the advantage back to two, 10-8, when she converted a highlight-reel scoop shot with 14:12 showing. Fourteen seconds later, after yet another draw win, Ryan raced in and scored unassisted to make it an 11-8 contest.
The Yachtsmen wouldn’t score the remaining 13:58 of the game, but their defense, Aaskov and a little luck produced a victory.
After Bethel scored on a free position with 10:45 left, making it 11-9, Cape Elizabeth pressured hard to get even closer, but it wasn’t to be.
With 7:40 remaining, Darling’s bounce shot eluded Aaskov, but hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced back on the field of play. With 3:30 left, Darling had another great look, but Aaskov turned it aside. Then, with 1:40 to play, Perkins got free in front, but Aaskov made the save and that was all she wrote.
“I love playing Cape,” Bernier said. “It’s always a fun game. It’s always very aggressive. We hit this rhythm where we got every draw and we ran down with it, passed it around. We did well with transition. We got the fastbreak and got it in. It was fun.”
“We only play (Cape Elizabeth) once so it was an important game for us with playoff possibilities,” Haley added.
Bernier continued her stellar play, leading all goal scorers with four. DiPhillippo, Fay and Ryan each had two goals, while Waite added one. Bernier had three assists, Fay two and DiPhillippo one.
“We stepped up to be a second half team,” Fay said. “We definitely don’t have just two players. We’re very well rounded, which helps us a lot. We’re working on our passes. Last year, we had rough games, but this year, we hold our ground. I don’t think we’re ever too nervous. We just need to stay calm and settled.”
Fay led all players with 12 ground balls. Ryan grabbed nine and DiPhillippo had seven. Aaskov made 11 saves, all of them pivotal.
“I got some help (from the post) today,” Aaskov said. “It was so great. Shots low left corner are the toughest to stop. I have to work on my bottom corner and getting my stick down there. I think I get more confident each game. I hoped the clock would run out. The NYA game was a big turning point for us. This was similar to that game. “
“Moie came up with some big saves,” Haley said. “She was great. She made key saves in the second half. That’s what we talked about at halftime, cutting down their shots because they have great shooters. (Junior) Ashleigh Burton (four ground balls) had some key defensive pickups. Laura had a sensational defensive play. We’ll take it.”
For Cape Elizabeth, the athletic Bethel and Steidl both had three goals, while Perkins scored twice and Darling added a goal. White had the team’s lone assist. Perkins, Steidl and sophomore Jane Coffrin all finished with five ground balls. Sonesson made four saves.
“I hate walking off the field like this,” lamented Capers coach Kurt Chapin. “I don’t know what it is. Part of it is just composure. We lost our defensive form at the end of the first half and let them get back in it. We must have had four open shots in the last five minutes. We had opportunities.”
The difference in the game (especially in the second half) came in the draw circle where the Yachtsmen won 15 of 21 (eight of nine after halftime). Ryan did most of the damage, taking 14-of-20 opportunities. Junior Vanessa Audet won her lone chance. Steidl went 5-of-18 for the Capers, while Perkins went 1-of-3.
Falmouth had a 55-41 edge in ground balls. Each team had 25 shots, but Cape Elizabeth put 20 on frame to 15 for the Yachtsmen. The hosts had 23 turnovers to 19 for the Capers.
Neither team will have a chance to rest on its laurels.
Cape Elizabeth (third in the Western Class B Heal Points standings) hosts Massabesic in a crossover game Friday, then gets its one crack at Waynflete Tuesday in Portland. The Capers also still have a big home test remaining versus NYA, the defending Class B champ.
“We’re a young group,” said Chapin. “It’s tough because (going into the year) we had all the pieces in place. We had to take that one big piece of the puzzle out and have to figure out who to plug in. We haven’t put 50 minutes together against a good team, but we know we can. We hope to see these guys again. They have a good team. We’re really close.”
Falmouth welcomes Eastern A power Brunswick Saturday morning, has its makeup game at Yarmouth Tuesday of next week, then goes to Waynflete two days later. The Yachtsmen close the regular season with a home game against Yarmouth and a trip to NYA.
“It feels good, but we still have many games,” Bernier said. “We have to play Yarmouth twice, we play Waynflete and NYA again. This win will help us a lot in the playoffs.”
“(Next week) could be great,” Haley added
CE- 7 2- 9
F- 5 6- 11
23:11 CE Bethel (unassisted)
21:03 CE Perkins (un)
16:37 F Bernier (DiPhillippo)
15:30 CE Bethel (un)
13:23 CE Steidl (White)
5:50 F Waite (Bernier)
3:37 F Fay (free position)
3:02 CE Darling (un)
2:53 F Ryan (Bernier)
2:30 CE Steidl (un)
16.6 CE Perkins (free position)
0.2 F Fay (Bernier)
22:02 F Bernier (Fay)
17:39 F Bernier (free position)
16:51 F DiPhillippo (free position)
16:21 F Bernier (Fay)
15:21 CE Steidl (free position)
14:12 F DiPhillippo (un)
13:58 F Ryan (un)
10:45 CE Bethel (free position)
CE- Bethel, Steidl 3, Perkins 2, Darling 1
F- Bernier 4, DiPhillippo, Fay, Ryan 2, Waite 1
CE- White 1
F- Bernier 3, Fay 2, DiPhillippo 1
CE- (Sonesson) 4
F- (Aaskov) 11
Draws (Falmouth, 15-6)
CE- Steidl 5-of-18, Perkins 1-of-3
F- Ryan 14-of-20, Audet 1-of-1
Ground balls (Falmouth, 55-41)
CE- Coffrin, Perkins, Steidl 5
F- Fay 12, Ryan 9, DiPhillippo 7
Shots on goal:
Shots on frame: